Luís Pato and Bairrada, effortlessly can be considered a natural marriage. Whether by chance or else, the result of an unavoidable destiny, already predestined even before being.
DOC Bairrada was created in 1979, a year later Luís Pato produced his first wine, at the time a 100% Baga, when he was still being criticised for its quality. Today, four decades later, "Senhor Baga" or "senhor Bairrada" are some of the epithets attributed to him.
He inherited the non-conformist and pioneering spirit of his father João Pato who started bottling wine from his own vineyards in 1970, a significant fact in a time of prevalence of cooperatives and stockists. He became the first producer/bottler in the Bairrada region after its demarcation.
Luís, a chemical engineer by training, decided in 1984 to work full time in wine, on his project, thus giving continuity to the long family winegrowing tradition. There are documents proving wine production since the 18th century at Quinta do Ribeirinho.
Luís Pato quickly became one of Portugal's wine personalities, the ''revolutionary of Bairrada'', who tamed the Baga grape variety, stirred up the waters within the region and even abandoned the DOC Bairrada in 1999. Why? 'The Portuguese government appointed a man to lead Bairrada who wasn't the right man. So, to show a yellow card I moved from Bairrada to the Beiras'. He explained in an interview with wine expert Jamie Goode. He also cited two reasons for not wanting to return to Bairrada. "I don't want to be mixed up with the new world trade and the use of French grape varieties, and I think the Beiras region needs to be together, and Bairrada should just be a sub-region for top reds." Later he reversed his decision and returned to DOC Bairrada.
He did not remain in vain disagreement, which sometimes becomes empty due to lack of content and sustained contradiction. The experimentalist and scientific spirit typical of his training in chemistry that through trial and error, of testing theory, as well as looking at the world outside the region and even beyond the country. An example of his open-mindedness is the fact that he was the first foreign jury to participate in the International Wine Challenge, the largest blind tasting in the world, held in London every year. Luis describes this experience as "my tasting university".
These experiences gave him a portfolio of innovations, an attitude that is still current.
He was one of the pioneers in the region to vinify grapes without stalks, to age in new French oak barrels and to launch the first "pé-franco", as well as the 'single vineyard', Vinha Barrosa, Vinha Barrio, Vinha Pan, Vinha das Valadas, Quinta do Ribeirinho Pé Franco and Vinha Formal.
This last vineyard, famous for a beautiful white wine, has an interesting history behind it. In 1867, António Augusto de Aguiar produced a map showing his demarcation of Bairrada with a yellow line around the area he thought was best for white wines (the map is in the Bairrada museum). Luis Pato decided to trust this map and bought the Formal vineyard, which has clay-limestone soils and the result is this complex, intense white wine with remarkable ageing capacity.
More recently, in 2008, he added the designation Monopoly after acquiring the last parcel of the Barrosa vineyard and becoming the sole owner of vineyards in that location, in true Burgundian style.
He pioneered the creation of his first single vineyard sparkling wine - Vinha Formal - based on the Bical and Touriga Nacional grape varieties, as well as giving wings to his imagination by making his first sweet natural wines (white, rosé and red), called Abafado Molecular.
And that's not all. Already in 1995 he would practise something like precision viticulture, harvesting the same vineyard in different periods, for the production of sparkling and still wines, amongst others.
Even in marketing and communication, Luis Pato has an incredible ability to promote his wines and his brand. He started with the first wine he wanted to call Óis do Paço, which was refused by the National Wine Board. Thus the Luís Pato brand was born. He calls himself a "Rebellious Producer", replacing the papillon that characterised him with t-shirts where he appears with his tongue hanging out and making faces and grimaces, among other messages in keeping with the hashtag of the moment. Partnerships with various producers and with his daughters.
Wine tourism has long been a key part of his activity, with a space prepared for this purpose, where he receives professionals and lovers of his wines. It has a wine shop, visit programmes with wine tasting by appointment and signature lunches, and it is also possible to take part in wine courses.
Wine and gastronomy, an axis to which he gives a lot of importance, where he even performs gastronomic moments with the signature of renowned chefs, national and international, always accompanied by the wines of the house.
And it continues to make disruptive moments and products, example the Duckman project, moving like a fish in water between classicism and the trends of the moment.